A decision to go against the tide of negative critical responses (again):
“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”, the second adaptation from the Lee Child series, is a good movie.
Including and because of Tom Cruise. Bare with me, its the second time he suprises. “The Edge of Tomorrow” was a pretty good sci-fi movie, and I had no expectations that this Space Marine “Starship Troopers” rip-off will go well. But, what comes around the corner like a whirling octopus from hell? – a well written action time-travel bastard. Army, yes, alien invasion, yes, but have you seen the flat “Independence Day 2” in comparison? I have, in sequence, and I prefer definitely the Tom Cruise approach. Well played and quite dedicated in acting, given the repertoire of Tom, which is, let’s put it nicely, as limited as Jason Bourne´s.
Even though in “The Martian” Matt Damon was sympathetic and diverse, rather a similar surprise in good acting. Tom is good, too, he just does not show it too often. It might be like with Leonardo di Caprio, who could be his son,…it gets better in time. The lonely wolf of the US Army street-cred movies – so 80ies! He is top-gun again – the scientology maniac. I respect him for making the effort. Jack Reacher. Fantastic. Solid and well written, and utterly undermining authority. Total rogue. He is Rogue One, not this failed attempt to kickstart a franchise from the makers of Donald Duck thinking killing off Duckburg is a great story-idea, next to cooking up references.
Its his best appearance after his collaboration with director Edward Zwick in “The Last Samurai”. Call it a feisty comeback. Funny, well played and acted with little nuances, only in the end he overdoes the Clint Eastwood-grumpy-expressionless-social phobic-cowboy-dad a bit too much. But, throughout the movie you see the torment in his face. The action well paced, the story a lot better than the usual action flick, “former agent gets haunted by his official past”. This character does not want to go back to his military career, flees from his job. Top Gun is out. And he wants to stay out, maybe doing the good deed here and there, more out of reflex than conviction. As if he can´t help it, a hunch, a blow, an adrenaline kick to get into trouble. The initial scene, a call to adventure – telephone rings, will he gets bailed out by the one he would try to bail out later? A strong start worth a Tarantino movie.
That is really good Hollywood quality delivered here. Also the daughter, the co-star Danika Yarosh being currently 18 years old, very well casted – till Scream we are waiting for teenagers who can convince us. Ok, she is in her twens but Daisy Ridley convinced in becoming a badass Jedi, and we do not forget Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games trilogy. This daughter and her wanna-be dad kick ass, in different, but similar ways. He surprises with attack as defence, she with hiding and diversion, but both do not stick to rules as a recipe for success.
Reacher holds up Army values and still breaks all the rules. He teaches the daughter who is shoplifting to break the rules big-time. Tom Cruise became “the father” and that is an astonishing journey for Nicole Kidman’s husband and admitting in 2012 that he had not seen his daughter Suri for 110 days…he is believable and that is a mission almost impossible. Recommended, as this level of fun and dialogue can get under the skin and the level of thrill of the hunt combined with values is getting all too rare since the 80ies.
Top Gun Cruise pulls it off, and this alone is remarkable, but he leaves space for others, too – almost as serene and sincere as jumping up and down a sofa in the Ophra Winfrey show. I am impressed. Watch it.
That is what Sunday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday cinema should be doing – and not less.